Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Man Who Hated Health Care

Anyone who has followed Stephen Harper's political career should not be surprised by Jim Flaherty's take it or leave it offer to the provinces. And those who fear for the future of medicare should recall what Stephen Harper has said in the past. Back in 1997, as President of the National Citizens Coalition, Harper declared that: "It's past time the feds scrapped the Canada Health Act."

It was all part of Harper's take on the country. Universal public health care was a sign of Canada's second rate status:

Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task.

Like his promises to kill the long gun registry and to get tough on crime, Harper intends to eventually get rid of medicare. Flaherty's ultimatum, Thomas Walkom writes, is the first step:

Stage two has not yet been announced. But it is intriguing to see that Ottawa still wants to continue talking to the provinces about health, even as it insists that the main topic of contention — money — is non-negotiable.

What will they talk about? My guess is “flexibility.” Having warned the provinces that he plans to eventually starve them of cash, Prime Minister Stephen Harper can now tell the premiers that he’ll turn a blind eye if they try to make up this shortfall through creative solutions — even if such solutions (delisting of all but core services? user fees?) run directly counter to the letter and spirit of medicare.

For Harper, talk of flexibility is merely a smokescreen to hide his long held intention. It is all part of his long term plan to remake the country. The prime minister refused to follow his father's wishes and become an accountant. But he has no qualms about putting accountants in charge of the country. And what was that about a "second world strongman?"


kirbycairo said...

Frankly, I am glad that they are finally exposing the agenda that so many conservatives said that they didn't really have. This is one of the few issues that they won't be able to spin and which will ensure that they lose the next election and are forced into the political wilderness for many years. I am hoping that they try to bring back the death penalty and outlaw abortion, those are two of the other issues that will seal their fate.

Owen Gray said...

These folks really think they're bullet proof -- otherwise, Flaherty would have been open to negotiations.

They deal with the provinces as they deal with the opposition in the House -- and eventually the country will turn on them.

The question is, how long will it take?

kirbycairo said...

It will happen the way it happens to all tyrants - their inability to negotiate will push them further and further into their own painted corner and the inflexible object is the most easily broken. As I have said before, the most entertaining part will be their incredulity at their demise. Remember the panic they displayed when they thought they might loose power to the ill-fated coalition? It was quite a sight to be seen. Imagine what they will look like as they begin to fall apart. It will get very ugly you can bet and if Baird's comments during the previous crisis is any indication, they may event attempt some kind of illegal move to hold power.

I said for a long time that the best thing that happened to Harper was his minority government because it saved him from his own self-destruction. Three and a half years from now the economy will be worse, the health care system will be in total disarray, they will have lost several court cases etc etc. On top of this, the further into their majority they get the more outrageous they will get. This is a pretty simple rule of such egoists. And the confidence has simply been bolstered by the fact that their boldness has served them well up to now. But that is exactly what will destroy them. It will be quite interesting to watch.

Owen Gray said...

If these folks were familiar with Greek Tragedy, Kirby, they would temper their behaviour.

But I'm willing to bet that the movers and shakers in Harperland don't know who Sophocles is -- just as the Ford brothers didn't know who Margaret Atwood is.